Mr. Odachi’s Zero — the agile Japanese fighter aircraft that dominated the Pacific skies within the battle’s early years — was loaded with an 1,100-pound bomb, weighing it down a lot that it might be unattainable to outmaneuver the enemy. When American fighters noticed him, he jettisoned his bomb into the ocean and managed to flee.
On his subsequent sortie, his group did not discover a goal. The following six missions additionally resulted in failure.
After every try, he would anticipate weeks for brand spanking new orders. Each evening, the officers introduced who would fly into battle the subsequent day. It “felt just like the conferral of the demise penalty, and it was stomach-turning,” he wrote.
However by the top, he stated, “we had develop into detached to issues of life and demise. Our solely concern was making the ultimate second depend.”
That second, nevertheless, by no means got here. On his remaining mission, his aircraft was getting ready to take off when a member of the bottom crew ran onto the runway, shouting and waving for the squadron to cease. The emperor, Mr. Odachi discovered, had simply introduced Japan’s give up. He was going dwelling.
On his return, as a prepare took him by way of the bombed-out stays of Hiroshima, he really understood that the battle was over. At his dwelling in Tokyo, he took the ceremonial brief sword commemorating his standing as a kamikaze and threw it into the fireside fireplace, the place it melted right into a lump of metal.
His solely souvenirs from the battle are a handful of pictures and a gift from a younger girl he met in Taiwan: a silk scarf, produced from a parachute, that’s embroidered with cherry blossoms and a blue anchor, the image of the Yokaren.
Mr. Odachi has by no means revealed the lady’s identification. It is likely one of the few issues in regards to the battle he nonetheless refuses to speak about.